Q - 12/92, p.1464 Stars
- Excellent - "...Frontally mixed, his sonorous, slapping double bass promenades through each of the very distinctive songs, his fully-burred, casually swinging voice ambles through the jazzy sparseness..."
Personnel: Willie Dixon (vocals, bass); Memphis Slim (piano); Wally Richardson (guitar); Al Ashby (tenor saxophone); Gus Johnson (drums).
Recorded in Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey on December 3, 1959. Originally released on Pretige/Bluesville (1003). Includes original liner notes by Dale Wright.
Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1990, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley).
Willie Dixon's first album under his own name is a tasty, if rather curious affair. It was recorded at the dawn of the first great blues revival, before white college kids like the Rolling Stones started plugging their guitars into amps and emulating Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. In fact, WILLIE'S BLUES is what those two artists might have sounded like had they been recorded in a jazz setting.
The lack of harmonica is unsettling, although Al Ashby's tenor sax fills in manfully, and the sound is eerily clean--one waits in vain for that great Chess Records reverb. All in all, the album is rather more laid back than you might have expected. For want of a better term, it's almost lounge blues, with the notable exceptions of "Slim's Thing," a great boogie woogie workout that gives co-conspirator Memphis Slim a chance to strut his stuff on piano, and a chugging version of Howlin' Wolf's "Built for Comfort."